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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The adults in Trump’s room, all two of them


Politico Magazine has a long profile, “John Bolton is living his dream” where this paragraph stood out to me:

Suddenly, a man once seen by Washington’s foreign policy elites as a dangerous enabler of the president’s worse impulses had taken on a surprising new identity: the adult in the room. It’s an unfamiliar role for Bolton, who made his name in Washington as an uber-hawk known for his mastery of international legal arcana and his hair-raising calls for military action in places like Iran and North Korea.

The other adult, although he isn’t literally in the room like John Bolton who has office near the Oval Office, is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Along with Bolton he was very much involved in the decision to pull out the nuclear arms treaty with Russia. There has been considerable speculation that Pompeo is considering a run for the Senate although in Sunday’s “Face the Nation” interview President Trump said “I asked him the question the other day. He says he’s absolutely not leaving. I don’t think he’d do that. And he doesn’t want to be lame duck” adding “Well, he may have spoken to him, but I think he loves being secretary of state…” because I suppose Trump thinks anyone so honored must love working for him.

With the departure of Jim Mattis as secretary of defense and his being replaced by an acting secretary, Patrick Shanahan, we don’t even have an “adult” who is as secure in his position as anyone at the mercy of Trump’s whims can be to advise him on military matters.

When you agree with the world views of Bolton and Pompeo or not it is clear that they are experienced in the workings of government and not Trump sycophants. If anything they have become more or less adept at using the art of persuasion which means chosing their battles wisely to subtly manipulate the president not to act on his anger-driven and ignorant impulses.

The people who are of voting age who are actually in the room, short for interacting with the president on a regular if not daily basis, are (pictured) Kellyanne Conway, Bill Shine (late of Fox News), Sarah Sanders, Dan Scavino, Steven Miller, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and Mercedes Schlapp, plus all of his unofficial advisors at Fox and Mar-a-Lago.

Trump responds to flattery and isn’t embarrassed even as a merely normal narcissistic person would be over gushing obviously insincere praise, he often makes decisions based on the last person he talked to (or heard of Fox News). Thus the two adults are at a disadvantage when they try to keep him from going off the rails.

Are you reassured yet?

Update: Feb. 8, 2019

From a new report from Vanity Fair by reporter Gabriel Sherman as reportered in Alternet

White House Communications Director Bill Shine has told friends he’s angry that Trump has singled him out for the bad press during the government shutdown. “Bill is like, ‘you’re the guy who steps on the message more than anyone,’” said a Republican who’s spoken with Shine recently. Economic adviser Larry Kudlow has told people he’s probably got six months left. “Larry’s really tired of it all,” a source close to Kudlow said.

The special privileges and access afforded to Kushner and Ivanka have been alienating Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. “Mick is not entirely thrilled with the family,” a Republican close to Mulvaney told me. Multiple sources said Mulvaney is looking for a way out of the West Wing. He’s said to be interested in a Cabinet position, either at the Commerce Department or Treasury, and he’s reportedly been pursuing the University of South Carolina presidency. A senior White House official recently lobbied a friend of Mulvaney’s to convince Mulvaney to stay.


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